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by Abigail Van Buren

Daughter's Use of Birth Control Has Mom at a Loss for Words

DEAR ABBY: You recently published a letter signed "'Real' Adoptive Parent" from a mother who was upset by insensitive questions. My wife and I are the parents of three girls: one, an adopted Korean-born child; another, a biracial child; and one who is our daughter by birth.

We belong to a local adoptive-parent support group where we have heard every imaginable story about encounters with prejudice and insensitivity. We have also learned how to handle such questions.

When asked what seems to be an impertinent question, it is best to assume that there was no harm intended.

For example, one woman asked if my Korean daughter was "mine." When I responded, "Yes," she asked, "How much did she cost?"

When asked, "What happened to her 'real' mother?" a good response would be, "I have been married to her for more than 20 years."

When asked, "Are they your natural children?" I say, "We don't use any preservatives or artificial ingredients."

By answering good-naturedly, and with a little humor, parents can communicate two very important lessons to their children: how they can one day handle such questions, should the need arise; and at the same time demonstrate that since the parents are not embarrassed by their family, neither should the chidren be. -- ROBERT KLAHN, PRESIDENT, RAINBOW FAMILIES, TOLEDO, OHIO

DEAR ROBERT: Thank you for your helpful suggestions, as well as your eye-opening letter.

Families interested in information about adoption can contact Adoptive Families of America, 3333 Highway 100 North, Minneapolis, Minn. 55422. You will be provided a free information packet upon request. No self-addressed, stamped envelope is required.